SOUTH AFRICA: Nocturnal Hunt With Wintershoek & Safari Afrika

BRICKBURN

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I can relate to seeing the "blobs". You just took me straight back to the blind at night with this recounting of yours.

I was watching four blobs mill around in the dark. The only thing confirming they were pigs was the snuffling, grunting and munching on the corn.

As the light came up slowly trying to pick out the Boar out of the milling pork was a challenge.
When the Boar stopped and looked my way, that was it.
I only knew it was the Boar because of the relative size, and even then it had been confirmed by the low whisper, "the one on the left"

Congratulations on beating the curse.
 

Hank2211

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Day 6 (April 14)

Got up at 4.30, again. I have to say, this is the most tiring hunt I’ve ever been on. The bizarre and ever-changing hours, combined with the jet lag, means I haven’t been getting much sleep. And there’s been some frustration about shooting in the dark (again, literally and figuratively). Combine lack of sleep with frustration and the results are best kept to yourself.

We stopped the truck about a half mile from the blind, and walked the rest of the way, getting to the blind by 5.40 am. The sun began to come up a little after 6, and by 6.15 I could see well enough to shoot. If there was anything to shoot at.

At about 9 am, John and I began to whisper some thoughts. Well, I began to whisper, mostly because I really had to go to the bathroom. There had been an earlier suggestion that I take a bottle with me into the blind, which I had dismissed outright. Call me a sissy, but I don’t think real men pee in bottles. (Not pop bottles anyway).

John had mentioned earlier that the hyenas always seemed to come to the bait a couple of hours after we’d left. This had us both thinking that maybe, just maybe, the hyenas lived pretty close to the bait, and were well aware when someone was there, and when that someone left. I don’t know how smart these animals are, but I know how wary they are. It was a thought.

So we decided to call Flippie, who we knew was out checking the other baits, on the radio, and tell him to come to this bait, check it as usual, and then leave. He said he would be there in 15 minutes. As soon as he arrived, both John and I got out of the blind to relieve ourselves (that's what's called blessed relief!), and then promptly sat down again. We could easily see Flippie going about his business. About 10 minutes later, he left, making all of the usual noise.

Now make what you will of this next part. I’m not saying there’s a cause and effect relationship, I’m just relating what happened. Around about 10.30, I was pretty bored (still, and again). I was playing with my phone – since it was light, it wasn’t a problem. I had no signal, so there were only a limited number of apps that were of any use. One of those which didn’t need a signal was called “iRosary”, which is exactly what it sounds like. If you aren’t Catholic, it’s an easy way of saying the rosary, which is a series of prayers represented by the beads Catholics use. I decided to say a rosary. Not with any purpose in mind. I was not praying for a hyena, that’s for sure.

I finished the rosary at about 10.50, and then began to nod off again. Suddenly, John was grabbing my knee and saying “Shhhh”. I looked up, and he said “Get the gun. It’s there!” I looked out the small window of the blind, and thought I saw a bush pig – certainly it was brown in colour. John whispered, with a sense of urgency I don’t often get from him, “Hyena – shoot it now.” So I took a quick bead on the front shoulders as it was grabbing a piece of meat from the bait, and pulled the trigger. At that instant, the hyena was turning its head as if to leave the bait with the piece of meat it had. I still felt it was a good shot, and told John so, but also that I wasn’t 100% sure because of the last second movement. In my favour though, it had bucked as it ran off to the right.

We waited 5 minutes, and then left the blind to head down to the bait. I was still shaking, and still replaying the shot in my head. I still felt it was a good shot, but we couldn’t find any blood where the hyena had been. We began to look right, in the direction it had run, trying to discover where it might have gone. There was a large area of thick ferns, and John said no path there. We decided to split up, and I gave my rifle to Flippie (who was with us), who went a bit father left, while John and I went more to the right. We climbed the rocky hill, but couldn’t find any trace of the hyena. From the lack of whistles, it seemed Flippie wasn’t having much luck either.

After 10 minutes of this, John said let’s go back down. We should have seen something by now. I was having second thoughts, but I was sure it was a hit, and from the reaction, it seemed a good one (I also had thoughts of Royal27’s situation involving the blue duiker and lack of blood!). But this was no time to give up.

We returned to where the hyena had been standing when he was hit. John knelt down, looking for blood, as was I. John began to look around. All of a sudden he said, “There is a path through those ferns,” and sure enough, there was, but you couldn’t see it while standing. We began to follow that path, through the ferns and up the hill again, but much father to the right. Within 50 yards, I spotted a brown thing lying on the ground. I snapped my fingers and pointed it out to John, who had been looking farther ahead. Since I had no rifle, I let him make the approach! Sure enough, a brown hyena, stone dead!

I was absolutely thrilled. Thrilled that I’d gotten him; thrilled that we’d found him, and even more thrilled that it had all happened in daylight. I was even ecstatic that I wouldn’t have to spend any more time in blinds!

We whistled for Flippie, who helped carry the hyena back down to the bait. He and John were, I think, as excited as I was! We lay the hyena down and then just stared at it, almost in disbelief. Flippie said he wasn’t aware of another brown hyena that had been taken in daylight since he’d been hunting. I slapped him on the back and told him it was all because of the noise he made with his big Afrikaner feet when checking the bait!

We took pictures, loaded our prize on the back of the truck, and believe me, it was a merry crew that drove back to camp.

It was a cheerful lunch back at the house, and since I really felt like a beer, I decided we would all have the rest of the day off. Frankly, I needed to catch up on some sleep!

As a side note, when Richard called in the kill to the authorities, they asked for the time and date. Richard gave the date and the time as 11.10. The fellow said fine, 11.10 pm. Richard said no, 11.10 am. The Nature Conservation fellow said “not possible.” Oh, yes it was!
 

BRICKBURN

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Thank to Flippies big feet. A true testament to behaviour mod.

Intersting education on tracking. Good to note.

Nice trophy to get in the day light for sure. Congratulations.
 

Royal27

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Awesome!!! Can't wait for pictures!

Hank,

You almost have me looking forward to sitting in a blind here in 65 days. Almost....
 

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I have enjoyed your report.

Randy
 

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Congrats on the hyena! Pictures?
 

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Great story, thanks for sharing it with us. And congrats on the hyena!!
 

Hank2211

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If I'd put the picture in the post, everyone would have known the outcome before starting! Here he is - in broad daylight:

P1000141.jpg
 

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Congratulations Hank, You have a fine specimen there and worth all your hard work and lack of sleep!

The closest I have ever seen a Brown in day light was around 7pm, just after sunset.
 

BRICKBURN

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That is an excellent specimen.
 

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Congrats, Hank, I saw see a brown hyena at sundown, just its head, peeking between some bushes at a warthog I had shot previously, It was just a few seconds, no time to even shoulder my rifle :A Wave Sad:
 

Hank2211

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Thanks for all of the comments about the hyena. There is a two other species, or subspecies, of course (I think) - the aardwolf seems so innocuous that I don't think I could shoot one. I have seen one - once - at dusk many years ago, but have never had the urge to shoot one. Not even sure if you can. Feel the same way about the aardvark, which seems about as sad an animal as I can recall.
 

Hank2211

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Day 7 (April 15)

With the serval and brown hyena out of the way, most of the pressure was off. We still had a genet and a wildcat to find, but that was pretty much it for the nocturnal animals. Which meant horizons had to be expanded.

I have taken a Chobe bushbuck as well as a Cape bushbuck, so when I heard there was a Limpopo bushbuck, it seemed that I had an obligation to look for one.

Richard has access to an old dairy property not far from his farm, which has ideal bushbuck habitat. Water and riverine cover, with lots of tall grass and reeds. We decided to go there and see if we could find a Limpopo bushbuck.

We arrived at the property in the late afternoon, and immediately began to see bushbuck. Females, young males, and the odd older male. Really, this was prime bushbuck country, and we could afford to be selective. At one point, Jimmy, our skinner, said he’d seen a male bushbuck in the grass, not far from the truck. We couldn’t see anything, but he kept insisting it was there. Suddenly we saw grass move, and looking down closely, we saw a male bushbuck actually crawling close to the ground! We followed him for a bit, until he was someway in front of us, at which point he jumped up and ran off. Really interesting to see the strategy to avoid us.

Not long after, we spotted a beautiful old male, with quite impressive horns. He had seen us, but seemed to think that if he stood perfectly still, we wouldn’t see him. Not a great survival strategy, especially when there is still shooting light. I grabbed my .300, and the triple shock on the shoulder dropped him within five yards of where he was standing. A really delightful trophy.

P1000159.jpg



After bagging the bushbuck, we decided to stay at the Dairy and spotlight there. We found a nice open spot and had our dinner, and waited for the sun to go down. Sunset is really a lovely time in Africa.

Once it was suitably dark, we began by calling, but after an hour of no success, we began to drive and spotlight. We found lots of animals, but we weren’t hunting impala, nyala or any other antelope at night! At one point, around 10 pm, we passed some trees that opened to my left, down towards a pond (a “dam” in African parlance). Suddenly I was told to grab my gun. “Bush pigs!" said John. John had moved the light off the pigs for an instant, but I quickly got the gun up, and he brought the light back on to them. One started to run, but two were still looking at me. I shot for center of mass on the “middle” one, and saw it drop on the spot!

When we got to the dead bush pig, we saw that is was a boar – again, a stroke of luck, because I didn’t have time to decide which one might have been the bore. The solid bullet had entered the skull and travelled the length of the body, exiting in the rear. Again, I have to say I felt luck had been with me. The shot was incredibly quick, the shooting rest wasn’t the best, the light wasn’t great, and yet the bullet went where I wanted it to go. I’ll take it.

We loaded up the bush pig. Both John and I were really pleased – again, we’d tried for so long to get a bush pig, and now we had two in the space of a couple of days. I did think it was interesting that there was never any doubt in John's mind that I would shoot a second bush pig. I think we've hunted together for too long (I did throw him for a loop by not shooting the leopard when I had it in my sights, but you have to keep these PH's on their toes).

P1000166.jpg


We then decided it was time to start heading back to the house, so I pretty much put my rifle away. John kept spotlighting, because that’s what he does when he has a spotlight in his hand, I guess. Suddenly – it’s always suddenly – he said "get the shotgun! Quick!"

I grabbed his shotgun – a CZ over/under 12 gauge, which he had brought. Again, I had no idea why I should be grabbing a shotgun, but I do what I’m told without asking questions. My wife has trained me well. John pointed the spotlight at a small animal that was moving at a reasonable pace along the road. “Genet”. Say no more. I took the shot. And missed, more or less. I can hit a bush pig at 80 yards in the dark with a .375, and I miss a genet at 20 yards with a shotgun. What can you say?

The genet by now was off the road in some thick grass, and I gave him the other barrel. This time, a hit. He stopped where I shot. A relief after the first shot. John kept shining the light as Flippie and I got out of the truck to have a look at this thing, and at that moment, my dead genet came back to life, and began to move, not quickly, but with purpose, away from us.

You have to understand that outside of the beam of the light, it was pitch black. I didn’t have a flashlight because John had been shining the spotlight. But now the genet had gone where he couldn’t spotlight, and we couldn’t see anything. I ran back to the bakkie and got my headlamp, and Flippie got his flashlight, as did John. We ran back to where we had last seen the genet, and began to look around. Within a few seconds, Flippie saw it, and we all came over. As we shone the lights, it began to move again, and ran (well, walked quickly) into a thicket of thorns. A real thicket. Entirely made of thorn bushes. At this point, we circled the thicket, which was really more of a pile of thorns, about 5 feet wide by 10 feet long and about 5 feet high, with a tree in the middle. We could see the beady eyes of the genet in the pile, but we had no way to get in there.

John ran back to the truck to get the shooting sticks – why was a mystery to just then, because I had no gun, and I thought that shooting him with a .375 at a distance of four feet might just be overkill. I asked what he was going to with them, and he said, “Bash his skull in.” Right. Why didn’t I think of that? So John starts to poke the sticks into the thorns, trying to get the genet, which is clearly in some trouble, but not yet dead. This wasn’t working at all – all he was doing was making the animal move away from the sticks.

I won’t relate exactly how we brought this somewhat comical (if you weren’t the genet) standoff to an end, but we did, finally putting an end to the poor thing’s suffering. Thank you Flippie.

Now cane the unenviable task of retrieving the genet. We all looked at each other, and I finally said, “It’s my fault, I’ll go in there,” but much to my relief, John insisted he would do it. I was already suffering from assorted cuts caused by thorns, but I have to say John’s tolerance for pain impressed me. He was still pulling thorns from his arms and underneath his fingernails the next day. Thank you John.

Once we had the little critter out and I could get a good look at him, I said he appeared to be a bit small, but of course, what do I know about genets? This was the first one I’d seen up close. John thought it was a large spotted genet, while Flippie argued that it was a small spotted genet, the large spotted genet apparently being restricted to the Eastern Cape (in his opinion). This went back and forth for a bit, when I decided to settle the argument. He was a large, small spotted genet, simply because if he was a large spotted genet then he would be a small, large spotted genet, and I would much rather have shot a large version of the small spotted genet than a small version of the large spotted genet. Got it?

P1000193.jpg


At this point we had a bushbuck, a bush pig and a large, small spotted genet on the truck. Well, you could be forgiven for missing the genet between the other two animals, but we did have three. Definitely time to head back, and so off we went.

A very productive visit to the Dairy.
 

Royal27

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We still had a genet and a wildcat to find, but that was pretty much it for the nocturnal animals.

What do you mean that is all the nocturals? I've heard of other, more evil, night creatures... people don't talk about them much though... at least not out loud... :A Secret:

night.jpg


And missed, more or less. I can hit a bush pig at 80 yards in the dark with a .375, and I miss a genet at 20 yards with a shotgun. What can you say?

Me? I can't say anything! ;)
 
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BRICKBURN

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Another extended full body adventure in the African bush...

Your luck sure turned on the Bush pigs!

Very nice Ram.
 

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I have very much enjoyed your report and I am pretty jealous. You were able to take several great animals that are high on my list. Unfortunately, I can't import a Brown Hyena but have a Spotted version high on my list along with the others you got.

(Sorry for posting this in your other thread first but you hunt quality animals after my own heart and I enjoy your reports).
 

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What an outstanding report. Couldn't wait to get to the next post. Thanks Hank!

My list is now expanding and a few night hunts need to be added. That civet looked like a big one.

It did not seem like calling worked that well. Most of your success was driving/spotting and baiting near a blind.
 

Hank2211

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What an outstanding report. Couldn't wait to get to the next post. Thanks Hank!

My list is now expanding and a few night hunts need to be added. That civet looked like a big one.

It did not seem like calling worked that well. Most of your success was driving/spotting and baiting near a blind.

My experience was that calling didn't work. John - my PH - and I have had good luck calling in jackals, night and day, but that's about it. John says he has called caracal and some other animals, but we didn't have much luck.
 

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